SPORTS

Big clubs enter the oldest cup competition

TAGs: FA Cup, Soccer

2010-fa-cup-winnersNow that it’s January you can expect a lot to happen in the gambling industry in particular. If it’s conferences and parties that you want then London is the place to be, also home to the showpiece final of the world’s oldest Cup competition – which begins this weekend.

For a while now, many of the English Premier League clubs have shunned the FA Cup as if it’s their version of a comparison between the Super Nintendo and an Xbox 360. This shouldn’t be the case though as to anyone who regularly watches the competition it throws up matches that you won’t get anywhere else, and there’s always the chance a big side will slip up.

You only have to look back at last season’s competition for evidence of this, as Leeds beat their old foes Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford and this weekend could be time for them to pull off a feat similar to last January.

Arsenal has looked very formidable at home this season, and with a fully fit first team out you’d imagine they’d pulverize most sides in the Premier League, let alone the Championship. Leeds, though, currently sits in the upper echelons of the second tier, and is a difficult side to make sense of. There’s always a chance of an upset, but the Emirates isn’t likely to be the best chance of you seeing one.

Now that would be a short train ride away at Upton Park, as West Ham play host to Barnsley of the same division as Leeds. The East London club’s recent form culminated in 5-0 loss to recently promoted Newcastle on Wednesday night, and Avram Grant’s among a cluster of managers looking at an early summer holiday. A loss to Barnsley would be another nail in Grant’s coffin.

Wolves are another side struggling at the wrong end of the table, their trip to Doncaster presenting another opportunity for a Premier League side to crash out of the competition. Gaffer Mick McCarthy is no stranger to changing his side for matches that won’t effect his side’s league position. Doncaster also has a striker in Billy Sharp who doesn’t seem to be able to stop scoring.

Another manager who’s hit the headlines this season for making changes to his side is Blackpool’s eccentric boss Ian Holloway who takes his side to down to the South Coast and Southampton. Why this has never been named the “Coast Derby” we’ll never know but Saints boss Nigel Adkins has got them dreaming of the big time once again and to beat Blackpool would be a signal of intent on their part.

Last but by no means least there’s another side from Blackpool’s neck of the woos, Everton, who will praying they don’t fall victim to another giant killing. Both them and opponents Scunthorpe sit perilously near the bottom of their respective leagues and you wouldn’t put it past the Championship side beating Moyes’ boys.

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